Saturday, September 13, 2008

Palin punditry

Please give me a break. A number of pundits are now saying that Sarah Palin was confused by Charlie Gibson's question asking her to define the "Bush Doctrine" because actually there have been four different Bush doctrines over the years (the link given is just one of many such efforts to leap to Palin's defense.) If that had been true, her response would have been "Which one of the four Bush doctrines do you mean, Charlie?" rather than what she really said, which was "In what respect, Charlie?" and then a moment later asking if he meant Bush's "worldview."

As Bob Herbert pointed out in his column today, she couldn't answer the question because she didn't understand the question. You know, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig--and you can take an inexperienced, ignorant Republican ideologue and make her a vice-presidential candidate, but she's still an inexperienced, ignorant Republican ideologue. But as the New York Times editorialized today, this is really about McCain and his judgement:

If he seriously thought this first-term governor — with less than two years in office — was qualified to be president, if necessary, at such a dangerous time, it raises profound questions about his judgment. If the choice was, as we suspect, a tactical move, then it was shockingly irresponsible.

I would go further and say that this is also about McCain's patriotism. If you really loved your country as much as he claims to, wouldn't you choose someone unquestionably qualified to be president as your running mate--rather than leave the nation in the hands of an unqualified individual in case you died in office, which the actuarial tables say McCain has an excellent chance of doing? What kind of patriot would resort to political gimmickry to get elected, when so much is at stake?

Fortunately, Palin's lack of experience, and the ongoing ethics investigation in Alaska (which is not going away any time soon), will keep both McCain and Palin on the hot seat for the rest of the campaign--no matter how much they try to lie their way out of it.

Punditry that's more to the point: From James Fallows at the Atlantic, about why it matters whether Palin knows what the Bush Doctrine is or not. And from Glenn Greenwald, a Bush Doctrine primer.

More thoughts: A lot has been made about the relative "inexperience" of both Palin and Obama, the latter being, of course, only a first-term Senator and the former being only a first-term governor. But in Obama's case, it is not just his experience that counts, it is his experiences--the kind of life he has lived and the influences he has been exposed to, which have made him wiser about the world than pretty much any other potential president in my lifetime. If you have not yet read "Dreams From My Father", don't read it; get the audio CD and listen to Obama read it aloud, an experience that will give you greater insight into the man than any of the nonsense we are hearing during this campaign, including what we hear from the Obama campaign itself.

Palin line of the day, from Dick Cavett: "I wince and feel for her over the reports of how she is being tutored, guided and taught in marathon cram sessions of what might be called a crash course in Instant Experience 101. There’s something almost funny in the idea that she is being speedily stuffed, Strasbourg-goose-style, with knowledge she should have had before she was selected."

Nervous Nellies: Historian Andrew Hunt posts a very clear-headed piece about panic in Democratic ranks and how to deal with it--the Obama way.

The Masters of War: According to a front-page article in Sunday's (Sept 14) New York Times, U.S. arms sales are up, way up--"the Department of Defense has agreed so far this fiscal year to sell or transfer more than $32 billion in weapons and other military equipment to foreign governments, compared with $12 billion in 2005." Read the article to get the list of buyers, including a number of new clients such as Argentina, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Georgia, India, Iraq, Morocco and Pakistan--places to watch for the world's future wars. And then listen to the Bob Dylan song again.

More lies: CNN reports today (Sept 14) that the McCain campaign is planning to run another dishonest ad, this time about Obama's record on immigration reform. As the CNN story points out, the voting record of both candidates on the most recent immigration reform legislation is identical.


Jeff Meredith said...

The Bush doctrine gaff wasn't even her biggest:
Speaking before voters in Colorado Springs, the Republican vice presidential nominee claimed that lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had "gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers." The companies, as McClatchy reported, "aren't taxpayer funded but operate as private companies. The takeover may result in a taxpayer bailout during reorganization."

Economists and analysts pounced on the misstatement, which came before the government had spent funds bailing the two entities out, saying it demonstrated a lack of understanding about one of the key economic issues likely to face the next administration.

This is like shooting fish in a barrel if you're an interviewer.

I'd start with the basics. F.e., how many states are there? How many Senators are there from each state? How many House Reps from each state (Ha ha, trick question that will nail her! She'll give you some set figure and not realize it's based on population)? Who was the President before Bill Clinton (10 bucks that she'll say Reagan)?

And of course, Republicans will defend her no matter what, saying that she speaks from "the gut" and that such details -- like the names of world leaders -- are inconsequential. Such things are only known by effete, liberal snobs. So McCain and Palin will be elected, because there's nothing worse than being ruled by people who know things and read books and study issues of great importance. We need people who are very average in every way (code for stupid) and able to relate to the average American. Look, she may not know much about Fannie Mac, Freddie Mac, or preemptive warfare, but she does know a thing or two about aerial wolf hunting. I can't think of a more qualified person for the highest office in the land.

Jeff Meredith said...

Oops, I meant "Fannie Mae" in my last post -- typo. I was just channeling my inner Republican (he makes a lot of mistakes). Pretty soon I'll be talking about the need to secure the Iraq-Pakistan border.

Michael Balter said...

Thanks, Jeff, let's just hope that Palin gets plenty of chances to make all the gaffes you mention! As I argued in an earlier blog post ("It's the stupidity, stupid"), stupidity is a choice not a function of one's basic potential, and there are signs that at least some people have woken up. But I must admit they fall asleep again all too easily. (sorry for the mixed metaphors)

terryt said...

"U.S. arms sales are up, way up". Wasn't that the main objective? Oh, and to collar the oil market.